By now, businesses of all sizes should know the importance of leveraging consumer reviews in both their online and offline marketing efforts. For the unfamiliar, know that some studies indicate that 72 percent of consumers trust online customer reviews as much as personal recommendations.
Clearly, consumer reviews empower customers to make purchasing decisions. Bazaarvoice even tells us that visitors who read consumer packaged goods reviews have a 6 percent higher average order value than visitors who don’t read reviews. So higher conversions and order values, what’s not to love?
A few areas could make website owners/operators a bit wary of consumer reviews. Aside from fear of negative feedback and the development time needed to create and implement a successful review tool, obtaining trustworthy, relevant and useful reviews is a feat in itself. Here are 10 terrific ways to generate user reviews without really trying (OK, you do have to try).
1. Ask Brand Fans:
We all receive props on Facebook, through email and via word-of-mouth. It’s not unethical to ask these persons to make their claims via your formal review channel (e.g. your online review platform). You should also ask these advocates if you can use their testimonials on your website and in other marketing collateral.
2. Follow Up Post-Service/Purchase:
There’s a key time frame to follow up with a customer/client who has purchase a product or used a service from your company. What that period is, well, that’s different for everyone. An online shoes company may find it to be within 24 hours of when a customer has received the product, because by then the customer should know how the shoes fit, look and feel and how smooth (or unsmooth) their interactions with the company were. For a marketing automation software company, its follow-up period could be 30 days after a client has downloaded the solution, because by then the client can look at a fair amount of analytics to provide a quality review. Companies must test different times to find their follow-up time frame. They should also never miss an opportunity to send a follow-up email asking how a customer/client’s experience went.
3. Establish a Presence on Major Review Sites:
Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, Citysearch, etc. are trusted review sites and ones that your company should have a presence on, meaning create a profile, keep it updated and respond to user complaints. These review sites also have SEO implications, especially Google Places (obviously), so by establishing a profile, your company can gain higher visibility, attract more users and, hopefully, more reviews (and of course, additional revenue).
4. Make It Channel Friendly:
As those in the online space are well aware, mobile and tablet usage is on the rise. Ensure that customers visiting your site, regardless of device, can easily access and enter their reviews.
5. Create User Profiles:
As ego-driven people, we tend to act (or in this case write) differently if we know someone is watching. By not allowing anonymous reviews (or at least discouraging them with user profiles), customers are not only likely to give more accurate reviews, but also more helpful ones because their name is behind it (literally). In the B2B world, user profiles can also create an opportunity for user promotion, as the reviewer can enter their company name as their user name.
6. Publish Reviews for the Public:
There’s no sense asking for reviews, if other users cannot see them. Additionally, those who previously read reviews that encouraged them to make a purchasing decision, are more likely to come back and review their experience when they reach the other end of the sales cycle.
7. Offer Multiple Ways to Review a Product/Service:
Not all of us our Web Hemingways and some of us don’t even try to be. So if a user, who isn’t comfortable with their writing skills, only has the option of writing a long-handed review, they most likely won’t. On the flip side, if your company offers them the ability to answer multiple choice questions or rate the product/service on a scale of 1-10, they will most likely be more inclined to leave their opinion. The point is, to offer multiple ways for people to say the same thing (e.g. they loved it, hated it or were indifferent to it).
8. Gamify Reviews:
Gamification, which helps companies engage users and solve operational issues, is a surefire way to increase the number of reviews your company has. WordPress plugins like PunchTab, INCRWD and others can help you get started.
9. Offer Trial Periods:
If you want reviews, but don’t have any brand advocates, or even detractors, to leave them, one tactic is to offer trial periods for a service. Do not make the condition that they have to review the service in the end, but offer the service and hope your quality offering (and your follow-up emails) brings them back to review it.
10. Work With a Review Aggregator:
Companies exist that help brands generate reviews through referral engines, such as Best Local Reviews. This company, in particular, seems to take the guess work out of the process by sending follow-up emails on your behalf, working with social media profiles and offering customers a follow-up coupon to your business. Make sure to do your homework before partnering with a company offering X amount of referrals, etc.